For the date sauce:
- 4 oz Medjool dates, pitted and finely chopped
- 1 c hot water
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 c heavy whipping cream
- 1/2 c firmly packed light brown sugar
- 1 Tbl molasses
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 Tbl unsalted butter
Other items you will need: hand held mixer, aluminum foil, ramekins or other heat-proof small dishes, boiling water, and a slow cooker. My slow cooker is a 5 quart round and I was able to stack two layers of three ramekins.
Prepare the date sauce.
Combine the finely chopped dates and hot water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat. Cook for 2 minutes then stir in the baking soda and vanilla. The sauce will foam up; continue to stir. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.
Make the toffee sauce.
In another smaller sauce pan combine the heavy cream, brown sugar, salt, and molasses and simmer approximately 5-6 minutes, stirring constantly. The sauce will thicken enough to coat a spatula. Remove from heat and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Prepare the ramekins.
Gather 6 similarly sized small heat-proof dishes such as ramekins or other glass bowls. Be sure these will all fit into your slow cooker first! Coat the insides of the ramekins with butter. Pour two-thirds of the toffee sauce among the six dishes - about 3-4 Tbl each. Reserve the last one-third of the sauce for serving. Place the dishes on a cookie sheet and freeze until solid, about 20 minutes.
Make the pudding.
Measure out the flour and baking soda, placing it in a small bowl and whisk lightly to combine. In a large mixing, use a handheld mixer to cream the butter and sugar until well combined and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in the eggs one at a time. Mix in one-third of the flour mixture with the butter, then add all of the date sauce, blending well to combine. Finally, add the rest of the flour mixture and mix well to incorporate all of the dry ingredients.
Fill and steam.
Spoon the pudding on top of the frozen toffee sauce (I used approximately 1/2 c of pudding for each ramekin, making them just about 2/3 full) and cover tightly with aluminum foil. I actually wrapped the entire ramekin with foil to prevent water from seeping in. Place all six ramekins in the slow cooker then fill the slow cooker bowl halfway up with boiling water. Cover and cook on high approximately 2 - 2 1/2 hours. Check for doneness at about 2 hours: peek under the foil of a ramekin and if you see steamed, but cooked through, cake then they are ready to pull out. Some of the pudding may ooze out from the foil and into the water but that is fine. Remove the bowls from the slow cooker using a pair of tongs and let cool 5-10 minutes.
Invert individual puddings onto a plate and spoon on remaining toffee sauce and top with vanilla ice cream. Serve warm.
Make ahead tip!
If you do not want to serve these puddings right away, after pulling these out of the slow cooker cool them completely. Re-wrap and store in the refrigerator. Gently re-heat in a 350 degree oven for 10-15 minutes or until warmed through before serving.
Adapted from Away from the Box